Miguel Obando y Bravo
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Miguel Obando y Bravo
|Cardinal Archbishop Emeritus of Managua|
|See||San Giovanni Evangelista a Spinaceto|
|Appointed||16 February 1970|
|Installed||4 April 1970|
|Term ended||1 April 2005|
|Predecessor||Vicente Alejandro González y Robleto|
|Successor||Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano|
|Other posts||Cardinal-Priest of San Giovanni Evangelista a Spinaceto|
|Ordination||10 August 1958
by Giuseppe Paupini
|Consecration||31 March 1968
by Marco Antonio García y Suárez
|Created Cardinal||25 May 1985|
2 February 1926 |
La Libertad, Chontales, Nicaragua
|Motto||omnibus omnia factus|
|Coat of arms|
Miguel Obando y Bravo (born 2 February 1926 in La Libertad, Chontales Department) is a Nicaraguan prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the Archbishop of Managua from 1970 until his resignation on 12 March 2005. On 25 May 1985, he was selected by Pope John Paul II to be cardinal in Central America. He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. In 1986 Universidad Francisco Marroquín honored Obando with an honorary doctoral degree due to his commitment to individual freedom.
Miguel Obando y Bravo
|Reference style||His Eminence|
|Spoken style||Your Eminence|
He was appointed Titular Bishop of Puzia di Bizacena and appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Matagalpa on 18 January 1968. He was consecrated on 31 March 1968, by Marco Antonio García y Suárez, bishop of Granada, assisted by Clemente Carranza y López, bishop of Estelí, and by Julián Luis Barni Spotti, O.F.M., prelate of Juigalpa. His episcopal motto is Omnibus omnia factus. Promoted to the metropolitan see of Managua on 16 February 1970 by Pope Paul VI. He was elected as president of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, 1971–1974; and 1979–1983. He was also elected as president of the Episcopal Secretariat of Central America and Panamá serving from 1976–1980. In 1979 he received the Bruno Kreysky Award for peace and freedom, Vienna, Austria, the Plaque for Peace and Freedom of the Nicaraguan People, San Francisco, United States of America, 1980; the Letter of Brotherhood of the Piarist Society, Managua, 1980; the Venezuelan Order of Francisco Miranda, 1981; the Distinction of Loyalty to the Pope, the Church and the Nicaraguan People, Central of Nicaraguan Workers (CTN), 1982. He was created Cardinal-Priest of S. Giovanni Evangelista a Spinaceto on 25 May 1985, becoming the first Nicaraguan cardinal.
He participated in the 2005 papal conclave which elected Pope Benedict XVI. He lost the right to participate in a conclave when he turned 80 years of age in 2006. On 14 March 2007, he announced in a press conference held at Unica Catholic University that he had accepted a request made in January by Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega to preside over the Peace and Reconciliation Commission, which is charged with ensuring the implementation of signed agreements with Nicaraguans who were affected by the civil war of the 1980s. He accepted the presidency "a título personal" (in his own name). In February 2007 he had indicated that he would accept only if the Holy See allowed him. On 10 March 10, 2007, he had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI and in the press conference the cardinal said that the pope had told him to "work for the reconciliation of the Nicaraguan family."
Obando was a crucial figure in Nicaraguan politics. He became a vocal opponent of the corruption of the Anastasio Somoza regime in the late 1970s by expressing criticism in his pastoral letters as well as through the columns he wrote for the Boletín de la Arquidiócesis de Managua. He was critical of the corruption of the regime as it manifested itself through the government's mismanagement of relief funds after the 1972 Managua Earthquake, and became an outspoken critic of the human rights abuses carried out by the National Guard. The Archbishop helped to delegitimize the regime by refusing to accept the Mercedes automobile Somoza gave him and rejecting invitations to attend official state ceremonies.
Sandinistas in opposition
Obando served as an intermediary between the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and the Somoza government on two occasions during Sandinista staged hostage-taking incidents. In a pastoral letter written in June 1979 the Archbishop spoke in favor of the Sandinistas' use of armed force to overthrow the Somoza regime and encouraged Nicaraguans not to fear socialism. As a result of his criticism of the Somoza regime, the Archbishop was often referred to by the government as "Comandante Miguel", as if he were a Sandinista leader.
Sandinistas in power
The Archbishop's relationship with the Sandinistas altered dramatically by the early 1980s; he ultimately became one of the most vocal domestic opponents of the revolutionary government.
He opposed the "people's church" (radical clergy who supported liberation theology), and banned the Misa Campesina Nicaragüense (Nicaraguan peasants' mass). He insisted on the canonical obligation of the clergy to refuse to undertake the exercise of civil power. Thus, the Jesuit priest Fernando Cardenal (a brother of the poet priest Ernesto Cardenal), who refused to resign from his position as Minister of Education in the Sandinista government, was expelled from his order in 1984.
Obando opposed what he called the "godless communism" of the Sandinistas. He criticized many of their policies, including military conscription and restrictions of press freedoms, and accused the Sandinistas of human rights violations. The Sandinistas, in turn, complained that he should have attacked US aid to the Contras. Initially, Obando y Bravo had promised to the public that if human rights abuses on the part of the Contras were verifiably reported, he would denounce them. However, when many such abuses were reported by organizations (including Human Rights Watch and several human rights groups established by clergy of the Catholic Church itself), he did not denounce them as he had pledged to. Instead, he travelled to the United States in January 1986 and declared his support for the Contras thereby encouraging the U.S. Congress to provide them with military aid. This set the stage for a sharp confrontation between him and the Sandinista government. The Sandinistas, who already in July 1984 had expelled ten foreign priests (who had expressed solidarity with another religious figure who had been accused of being a contrarevolutionary), responded by rebuking Obando y Bravo repeatedly in public forums. Despite the popular support the Sandinistas enjoyed at the time, this episode certainly damaged that support, as Obando y Bravo was (as reported by journalist Stephen Kinzer) enduringly popular among Christian Nicaraguans.
Allegations of anti-semitism
Due to some of his interpretations of the role of Jews in Christian scripture, Obando y Bravo has been criticized as anti-Semitic by scholars including Noam Chomsky. In particular, he has accused Jews of deicide: "the leaders of Israel... mistreated [the prophets], beat them, killed them. Finally as supreme proof of his love, God sent his Divine Son; but they... also killed him, crucifying him." He also was criticized for saying "the Jews killed the prophets and finally the son of God.. such idolatry calls forth the heavens' vengeance."
Cardinal Obando y Bravo is suffering from brain cancer and is presenting symptoms such as mental confusion, disorientation and intense headaches. On 18 August 2012 it was reported that he had minor ambulatory surgery.